Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for December 19, 2012

December 19, 2012

•While it remains to be seen whether Whyte & Mackay remains part of United Spirits Ltd. (USL) once Diageo takes control of the Indian spirits giant, one thing appears certain—W&M’s shift away from private-label Scotch whisky production and sharpened focus on its higher-margin single malt portfolio (led by Dalmore and Isle of Jura) is paying off. According to U.K. press reports, W&M’s turnover jumped by 35.6% to £229.8 million ($373.9m) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, while pre-tax profits rose by 24% to £15.4 million ($25.1m)—even after W&M set up a subsidiary to market its brands in the U.S. (They were previously handled by Shaw-Ross.) With Diageo hoping to secure a controlling stake in USL next month, it’s been widely expected that competition concerns would force Diageo to sell off W&M, which USL acquired in 2007. However, Diageo CEO Paul Walsh has said he doesn’t think selling W&M would be a necessity.

•Total Wine & More is planning to open its latest outpost in Palm Desert, California, according to local reports. The new location will take over a former Office Depot space at the Desert Crossing Shopping Center and is expected to open in April. Total Wine, which carries an average of 10,000 wines and spirits and 2,500 beers in its stores, currently has more than 85 stores across 13 states.

Modelo Especial, winner of 18 consecutive Impact “Hot Brand” awards, has passed the 40-million-(2.25-gallon)-case threshold in depletions this year for the first time, according to Crown Imports, the brand’s U.S. marketer. Now the U.S. imported beer market’s third-biggest brand, Modelo Especial depleted 35.7 million cases in 2011, a 13.7% increase from the previous year. Crown Imports president Bill Hackett largely credits Modelo Especial’s fast-rising bottle sales—which now account for about 30% of the brand’s business—for this year’s impressive growth. He said that bottled 12-packs are up by nearly 30% in 2012.

•Napa Valley-based wine-on-tap producer and distributor Vintap has released Lorenza-Lake Prosecco in 20-liter kegs. Billed as the first Prosecco-style wine available on tap in the U.S., Lorenza-Lake Prosecco features tropical aromas of pear, apple and nectarine, with a finish of citrus and ginger. Founded in 2009, Vintap also offers a range of 25 California wines, including Hotel de Cluny Albariño, Oakville Ranch Chardonnay, Clif Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Deuxville Cabernet Sauvignon, Fulton Lane Cabernet Franc and Kemiji Pinot Noir, among others, available for purchase and delivery across the country.

•Hospitality group HMSHost and Starbucks Coffee Co. have unveiled the first airport location of Starbucks Evenings at Washington Dulles International Airport, just outside of Washington, D.C. Starbucks Evenings locations offer wine and beer after 4 p.m. as well as specialty food items not offered at other Starbucks units. The concept first launched in Seattle in late 2010 and has since spread to Portland, Oregon, and throughout Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta. The new airport location marks the 19th Starbucks Evenings unit nationwide.


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